GAO: Congress must act in order to stop the Internet giveaway

Sept. 15, 2016, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to a Government Accountability Office report on the plan by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to transition the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) at the end of the month:

“The GAO report affirms that Congress needs to act in order to stop the Internet giveaway. Although the GAO report did find that NTIA would otherwise have legal authority to transfer the IANA functions to ICANN, it also noted that the currently enacted prohibition against doing so prevents that from occurring. So while many media outlets are reporting that Congress has no say in whether the Internet giveaway should go forward, that is untrue. The fact is, for two fiscal years in a row, Congress has prohibited this transition from occurring. Those prohibitions were signed into law. Congress clearly has a role here in exercising its constitutional power of the purse, to prohibit the use of funds for policies it deems to be contrary to U.S. interests, like surrendering U.S. oversight of the domain name system.

“The fact that GAO notes that absent the prohibition, NTIA could just proceed with the Internet giveaway creates an even greater need for Congress to act than before. And not only to defund the giveaway, but to prohibit it from ever being transferred absent Congressional approval and authorizing Congress to sue in the event this or any future administration ignores Congress. Claim it as government property if that’s what it takes to stop this from ever happening. Now, if the Internet giveaway proceeds, it will be because Congress surrendered its Article One power of the purse and actively ceded oversight over the Internet’s domain name system to foreign powers. If the IANA functions contract with ICANN lapses, it will be because Congress let it lapse, and the American people will know who to blame. There will be no excuse for such a reckless action.”


“NTIA is currently prohibited by statute, through at least September 30, 2016, from using appropriated funds to relinquish its responsibilities regarding the IANA functions including the Internet domain name system.” Government Accountability Office, “Department of Commerce—Property Implications of Proposed Transition of U.S. Government Oversight of Key Internet Technical Functions,” Sept. 12, 2016 at

Section 539(a), Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 at : “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to relinquish the responsibility of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration … with respect to Internet domain name system functions, including responsibility with respect to the authoritative root zone file and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions.”

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